Watch: How film and developing actually work – It’s both magic and science

Tips & Techniques

This is one of the deepest dives into film photography and the developing process I’ve seen. Not surprisingly, it’s from Destin at Smarter Every Day. He says that he went looking to find a definitive video that explained it all and he couldn’t find one. So, he made one.

Destin begins by talking of the “magic” of film and the unique look and character it has that’s impossible to reproduce digitally. He also mentions film’s resurgence of late (I guess it’s mainstream now – the hipsters will be disappointed). But it’s not magic. There’s actual science behind it and Destin takes us to visit Indie Film Lab to see how the process works.

I shoot both digital and film, although not as much as I’d like with the latter over the last couple of years. I tend to stick with film just for black and whites, though. For colour, I’m happy with digital, but black and white film has a look and a tone (particularly Ilford FP4+) and a character that I’ve just never been able to recreate in digital, nor have I seen anybody else convincingly replicate it.

When I do shoot film, though, I develop it myself. I’ve yet to try developing my own C41 or E6, but black and white is very straightforward to do at home with minimal kit. It’s always fun to see how it works in a processing lab, though, especially over the last couple of decades as film died off and started to come back and labs have had to evolve with both events.

A very interesting and satisfying video to watch.

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